A QUICK EXPLANATION OF "ADVENT":
Advent means "coming" or "arrival". In the West, for Catholics and Protestants, it traditionally starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, Advent - or the "Nativity Fast" - begins every year on November 15th and, like Lent, is a 40-day period before Christmas devoted to preparation for the coming of the Messiah. It is a heightened time of prayer, fasting, acts of charity, and scripture reading. And, especially for kids, a time to learn patience as they anticipate Christmas Day.
ADVENT CALENDAR OF BOOKS:
THE BOOKS: Looking for book recommendations? Here is my CHRISTMAS BOOK LIST, which features some of my favorite Christmas stories for children. I plan on adding a few more books that I've come across this year to the list, but in the meantime, take a look at it (HERE).
EASY VERSION OF A BOOK CALENDAR: Some families put Christmas-themed books in a basket, wrapped or unwrapped, by the fireplace or under their Christmas tree, so that one book can be read each night. Determine the number of days leading up to Christmas you'd like to read the books (during all of Advent or just during the month of December) and gather together the appropriate amount of books - library books can be mixed in with your own books (just label them, if wrapped, so they won't be overdue). Some families like the tradition of putting away the books after Christmas and re-visiting them only during Advent.
|photo source: Charlotte Mason Home Education|
A LITTLE MORE INVOLVED:
Here is another fun way to make this COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS come alive for your kids. (If "more involved" doesn't appeal to you, scroll down to see my "super simple" options.)
|photo source: Babyccino Kids|
ACTIVITIES TO GO WITH THE BOOKS:
|photo source: tsj photography|
Another creative blogger mom posted this idea: wrap the books and put them under the tree. On the front of each wrapped package, attach the numbered envelope (coinciding with the day of Advent). Inside is a card with a special Biblical verse or reading on it, that is placed on the tree after reading. By Christmas Day, you'll have a tree full of Bible verses! CLICK HERE for the texts/readings for the 40- day Orthodox version of this activity. (It includes Old Calendar dates as well).
NEED SUPER SIMPLE?
How about one (1) book!
Don't worry - if this all sounds overwhelming, you can always purchase a traditional Advent calendar, with windows to open for each night of Advent and this one ADVENT STORYBOOK (it has "24 stories to share before Christmas"), by Antonie Scheinder.
ADVENTURES OF AN ORTHODOX MOM).
OR this book set advent calendar-in-one option...
I love "The Story of Christmas Book Set and Advent Calendar", by Mary Packard, illustrated by Caroline Croll. This particular calendar is made up of 24 little books to be read and then hung on the Christmas tree, from December 1st through Christmas Eve.
|Click here for ordering info|
FINALLY, ADVENT CALENDARS (minus the books)
I've come across some beautiful 41-day Orthodox Calendars, like the one below, available HERE.
|Each window opens to reveal the saint of the day.|
I also love this one, with the Madonna and Child, taken from Ruth Sanderson's beautiful cover art from her picture book, THE NATIVITY (yes, it's on my "Christmas Book List" of favorites). Calendar Available HERE (24 windows for December).
|Each window opens with a picture and a Bible verse.|
AND SOMETHING FOR PARENTS:
THE WINTER PASCHA, by Thomas Hopko. Forty meditations for the season of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. (excerpts can be found here).